As one say creation for "the act of creating something", couldn't the word edition mean "the act of changing something"? I was under the impression it was the case. But a remark from one of my colleagues, telling me I should use editing instead, prompted me to check on Wiktionary. As it turned out, I didn't find the meaning I searched under the definitions. Note that my colleague and I both are not native speakers. So which of us is right?

  • 4
    I someone used edition in this sense, I would think they were translating (badly) from their own language.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 5, 2011 at 16:08

2 Answers 2


Your colleague is correct. Though it would make sense for edition to mean editing, it has come only to mean the result of the editing (e.g. second edition) or the format of the finished work (e.g. leather-bound edition).

It would be better to use editing or revising.

  • 2
    Looking at the etymology, "edit" is a back formation from "editor" (the etymology of which is closer to "publisher"). Etymonline says that in the 16th century, the word "edition" also meant the act of publishing, but that meaning is now long obsolete. Oct 5, 2011 at 14:07
  • 1
    @Eldroß: editing (revising) might work, or edit (revision) might work, depending on the context. Maybe if you gave the rest of the sentence you were thinking of putting edition in, it would help to show what word to use instead.
    – Daniel
    Oct 5, 2011 at 18:02

I would recommend the term "emendation" for this purpose.

For example: "Emendation of the injured text was made to restore sense."

More examples here.

The advantage of using "emend" in this way is that it is often more value-neutral, where "edit" has a somewhat critical nuance that may be unwanted.

  • 2
    The disadvantage is that it isn't a common term. Also, I don't think there's that big of a distinction between edit and emend. I would hesitate to say that the advantages are great enough to significantly outweigh the disadvantages.
    – Daniel
    Oct 5, 2011 at 15:12
  • I do not believe that "commonness" need be the determinant of which word is best in a particular instance.
    – The Raven
    Oct 5, 2011 at 19:09
  • 1
    No, but it is a determinant. I'm just saying that I don't think it's that much better than edit or revise.
    – Daniel
    Oct 5, 2011 at 21:02
  • The average English speaker has never heard or read the word "emendation" even once. Oct 5, 2011 at 21:19
  • I don't know if it would be relevant to changing a database entry through an HTML form, but I learned something new. That's the reason I like E&LU.
    – Eldroß
    Oct 6, 2011 at 6:38

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